BY RICHARD REEVE
STAFFORD, Va. (CIRCA VIA WJLA) — Iliana Bellard is a cancer survivor. Just recently, she and her mother had reason to celebrate.
After a January 2017 diagnosis of stage four Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), her cancer was in remission.
But a special outing last Friday at a Stafford salon and day spa turned sour when a trio of nail technicians mocked the 10-year-old girl's appearance.
"She says it looks like a boy is getting her nails done ... everybody's going to think it's a boy getting his nails done, and they started laughing," said Iliana's mother, Elizabeth Bellard.
Elizabeth said she explained to a manager that her daughter had just finished chemotherapy and that this was her first outing in public.
That's when a manager offered to draw something on Iliana's nails for free. Elizabeth also spoke to a receptionist, who she says apologized following the incident.
"Do I condone what she did? By no means. I myself had ovarian cancer," said Brandy, a longtime customer, who doesn't want her last name used.
Brandy was incensed after reading media posts about the incident. A cancer survivor herself, she called out the owner, who asked for help.
"If you were told by the parents she's a little girl, that's it, it should have stopped right there, you should have apologized walked away, and that's it," said Brandy.
Since then, Brandy, who is now a new manager at the salon, fired one employee and suspended two others.
She's also ordered sensitivity training for every employee, including the owners.
The Bellards tell Circa partner WJLA Iliana is resilient and will recover from this incident, but they hope this is a teachable moment for everyone about young children and cancer.
"It's not OK, whether it was a child with cancer or without cancer, just bullying it's not OK," said Bellard.
Brandy says she hopes the Bellards return for a free visit. She also wants to offer a personal apology.
For her part, Iliana is staying strong.